Here are some predictions for what might feature within Baptist life for those apart of BUGB in terms of issues and questions.
1. Future of Ministry. Major work is being doing in 2014 around a review of ministry in terms of formation and training and future shapes, including can we sustain 5 Baptist colleges (short answer is likely to be 'no'). The implications of the review will most likely set the direction of ministry for the next generation. What kind of ministers do we need? What kind of ministry can we sustain?
2. Assembly. Will this year see the beginning of the end of the Baptist Assembly as we know it? If yes, will anything replace it or are we seeing the Union become a centralised body?
3. Associations. Following the Union changes, will we see any renewing of Associations, with regard to their purpose, their governance, their practice? My own view is that Associations are largely disconnected from local churches and that there is a need to restablish the bonds of connectivity and relationship between churches and the 'association' in its institutional form.
4. Politics. Will 2014 continue to see a renewed engagement with national politics, particularly in the area of welfare and poverty? Will we see some new Baptist 'political' activists?
5. Pioneer Collective. 2014 will be an indicator of whether this has legs, whether it is able to reach and capture the imagination of Baptist Christians, or whether 'pioneer ministry' (small 'm') is a minority sport!
6. Home Mission. Will we reach the new target? Will we begin to make the hard decisions (now to be made by associations [but who in associations is a question that needs asking]) about what home mission supports and sustains?
7. BMS. Will we get a clearer sense of what BMS working in the UK will look like? Will Catalyst Live cement itself on the Baptist landscape at least for the next few years?
8. Same Sex Relationships. Will we see any changes in the ministerial guidance? With an increased number of churches engaging in conversations, what will this mean for the Union? We might want to ask WWSCD (What Will Steve Chalke Do Next?)